Taste of Hong Kong 2017

The Taste of Hong Kong returns for a second year to Central Harbourfront from 16 to 19 March. This year’s festival features an increased number of Hong Kong’s top restaurants, confirmed so far are Amber, Arcane (Sunday only), Cafe Grey Deluxe, Chino, Duddell’s, Kaum at Potato Head (Thursday & Friday only), Mercato, Okra (Saturday only), Rhoda, Tin Lung Heen, Tosca, Yardbird and Zuma with perhaps three more to come. Each restaurant will serve four taster portion sized plates: three standard items at prices $50-$200 and one iconic dish that could cost anything…

So what is Taste? The concept is that you can sample taster size portions of dishes from restaurants that you might never visit and create a meal from a range of cuisines. It is a interesting idea, sort of like changing restaurants between each course of a meal – and organisers IMG have turned it into a very profitable global concept.

bc was underwhelmed by last year’s event, not by the concept but by the execution – read the report here. We do love food though, so we spoke to IMG about how they’re looking to ‘improve the experience’ this year.

As HongKongers we’re accustomed to queuing but IMG have said they’ll be working with the participating chefs and restaurants to improve the service efficiency. Increase the information about which dishes are still available, including having far more of the icon dishes per session. As well as having drinks carts serving people in the queues.

There is to be more seating, covered and uncovered. A wider range of entertainment and more artisan shops to purchase food and drink from. Plus an expanded range of talks about food and wine.

The invited chefs look to have a better understanding of the concept and several of the icon dishes show they’re looking to offer something unique at Taste.

IMG appear to have addressed a lot of the frustrations that dampened enjoyment last year with some more improvements yet to announced but it all sounds promising for a tasty event in March.

Taste of Hong Kong
Date: 16-19 March, 2017
Venue: Central Harbourfront
Tickets: $678, $198, $168 from Ticketflap

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Checkmate Pizza Grand Opening @ Hung Hom – 2 February, 2017

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Checkmate Pizza celebrated the opening of it’s second restaurant in Hung Hom with free pizza and beer! Size matters in pizza parlours and Checkmate offers 30 inches of tasty delight.
Click here or on any photo for the full gallery of images.

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Chocolate Lovers High Tea Delight

Attention chocolate lovers, Three on Canton‘s latest offering looks to sate your desires. The ‘Divine French Chocolate High Tea Set’ features an array of chocolate-themed savoury and sweet treats. What’s immediately obvious when the three-tiered high tea arrives is the amount of food. Too often tea-sets feature micro-bites, here each is at least two bites and you’ll certainly not leave hungry.

The tea set features 11 beautifully presented offerings, 4 savoury and 7 sweet, and you can enjoy your food with a cocktail, mocktail, tea or coffee. The savoury chocolate bites are a chicken nugget in a delicious dark chocolate dip – what a fine combination – and a mango and prawn brioche with white chocolate yoghurt sauce, it sounds delicious and is. These are served with two popular favourites Toast with fig, blue cheese and Parma ham and Smoked salmon asparagus rolls.

The sweet bites cover a broad range of flavours and textures and include: Chocolate and pear panna cotta, Dark chocolate mousse with mixed berries pie, Double chocolate cream puff, Milk chocolate mousse with vanilla apple filling, White chocolate mousse with apricot cake, Dark chocolate brownie, Coconut and chocolate chip butter scone with real clotted cream and jam. All are tasty and while none stand out, there are also none you’ll want to ignore.

The ‘Divine French Chocolate High Tea Set’ ($488/2 people, 3-5pm daily) offers a fine way to spend a relaxing afternoon, sitting inside or out. The portions size are good and although there’s a lot of chocolate the chefs have cleverly balanced it with other flavours and textures to ensure that it doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds.

Three on Canton / Be on Canton: Level 3, Gateway Hotel, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: 2113 7828

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Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-fried Buns @ Sham Shui Po

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The first franchise run Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-fried Buns outlet is in it’s soft opening phase at 96 Yen Chow Street in Sham Shui Po. Cheung Hing Kee has worked really hard to leverage it’s mention in the Michelin 2016 guide at it’s own stores (and suffered well publicised landlord exploitation). Looking to expand further it’s now taking on franchise owners to spread their love of sheng jian bao.

The menu is the same, the core ingredients are provided by Cheung Hing Kee – all the franchisee has to do is make and fry the buns. At the moment Edbert Tsang’s shop is only offering a partial menu, with only the ‘signature fried-bun’ and some soups available. He expects to be selling the full menu early in 2017.

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And the sheng jian bao? They’re pretty darn good and consistent with the quality at the other outlets. The dough is soft, tasty and chewy with a crispy base, the pork filling though soft and tender lacks a little flavour – but it does create a lot of well flavoured juice.

For those who haven’t eaten a sheng jian bao before, take a small first bite or you’ll have a face and shirt full of hot meat broth.

A box of 4 signature sheng jian bao costs $28. Sham Shui Po is a very working class area, for the same price around the corner you can get a full meal with a drink. As a couple of local customers commented it’s good, but for them a little expensive. That said, we’ll be back for more.

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Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-fried Buns:
96 Yen Chow Street, Sham Shui Po. Tel: 2711 6227
Shop 6A, G/F, 48 Lock Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: 2915 0389
Shop G50, G/F, PopCorn 2, 9 Tong Yin Street, Tseung Kwan O
Shop C-D, G/F, 9 Lok Shan Road, To Kwa Wan

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J.CO Donuts to Open in Wanchai

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Asian donut shop J.CO arrives in Hong Kong. The shop will open, subject to government licences, sometime this week at 55 Hennessy Road in Wanchai. J.Co has hundreds of outlets across Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia offering donuts, coffee and frozen yoghurt.

Locally the store will offer 24 different flavoured donuts including 4 Hong Kong themed ones in two different styles ring and filled. According to Managing Director Frankie Lin the local specials are ring donuts Alcapone, Jacky Chunk and filled shells Tiramisu, Coco Loco and Why Nut.

The $15 donuts are light and not too sweet, the dough is a lot less dense and filling than traditional European styled donuts – which given their success across Asia obviously goes down well with Asian palates. For me, based on the three we tried, they’re a little unsubstantial and bland, but there’s still 21 to taste.

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There are also boxes of mini donuts called J.Pops ($98) which look perfect for gifting or sharing with friends. They only make a limited number of boxes each day, so call ahead and order if must have a box.

The J.Club breakfast menu, available until 11am, offers 5 different breakfast sandwiches ($22) made using the donut dough. We didn’t get to taste these, but will be back to try them out. None of the drinks were available so we can’t comment on the quality of the Indonesian coffee.

The shop is bigger than you’d expect and offers numerous seats – whether J.Co will be comfortable with long term seat hogs as happens in many coffee shops remains to be seen.

J.Co has one big problem though, it makes extensive use of that disgusting artificial plastic tasting fluffy white stuff that masquerades as ‘cream’ in Hong Kong. It’s piled on top of drinks, mixed into some of the donut fillings which ruins both. Steer clear of this ‘cream’ and you’ll enjoy J.Co a lot more!

J.Co: 55 Hennessy Road, Wanchai
Opening hours: 7:30am-9pm www.jcodonuts.com.hk

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Edited: 13 December to correct a factual error

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Pei Ho Gift a Meal

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Start the season of giving early by giving a person in need a free meal. Pei Ho Counterparts charitable meal voucher scheme allows anyone to buy a meal for someone else for $24.

Restaurant owner Ming Gor (Chan Cheuk-ming) who has been running the restaurant since 1997, after starting work there in 1983, has been giving out free meals to the needy since then. This year the restaurant and it’s team of volunteers have been giving out around 500 free meals a week.

The new fund raising effort is simple you buy a voucher for $24. On various days in Sham Shui Po the vouchers are handed out to the homeless, elderly and others in need who can then visit Pei Ho Barbecue Restaurant and it’s sister outlet and enjoy a hot meal and a drink for free.

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The vouchers can be bought directly from the restaurant at 278 Tai Nan Street in Sham Shui Po, from 7-11 or from the pop-up store in Lan Kwai Fong until the 15 December – where you can also buy a lunchbox featuring one of Pei Ho restaurant’s nine signature dishes for $32. There will be a choice of three dishes each day, served from 11:30am -2pm, or until stocks run out.

The fundraising scheme is targeting 40,000 vouchers, enough for a year of free meals. Checkout the website www.peiho.hk for more details, while the meal gift is charitable the format of the scheme means your donation is not tax-deductible. Not that that should stop you contributing.

If you would like to be involved as a volunteer, please contact Pei Ho directly info@peiho.hk

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Greyhound Cafe + Wang Jia Sha Grand Opening – 17 November, 2016

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Grand opening party of Greyhound Cafe and Wang Jia Sha at Midtown Soundwill Plaza II. Gaia groups three new restaurants in Causeway Bay held a communal opening party on the 17 November with an evening of Thai and Chinese food.
Click on any photo for the full gallery of images

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Crft Pit Tasting Brunch @ Ap Lei Chau

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With an expanded retail menu American BBQ kitchen Crft Pit, which opened in 2015, is now offering it’s wide range of BBQ’d meats for order online with home delivery.

Located in Ap Lei Chau the food factory, under the helm of Chef Leo Kam, also offers a Saturday tasting brunch (1-4pm) where you can sample their broad range of Southern BBQ’d and smoked meats on the terrace overlooking the South China Sea or inside watching the kitchen in action. The retail store also offers whiskey, wine, beer and soft drinks to pair with your BBQ.

Everything is served on metal take-away trays with paper wraps which matches with the working kitchen feel. bc sampled several items, sadly the tasty and popular pulled pork, which we sampled at Wine & Dine, had sold out, so well be back to have that again. What stands out across the menu is for want of a better description the cleanness of the meat. The lack of hormones, msg and additives, plus the light smoking allow the meat’s flavour to stand out. The beef is mainly from the US, while the New Zealand lamb and French spring chicken are both halal. The clean flavours are because Crft Pit is a food factory and sell their products to many restaurants across the city who then flavour them as they desire.

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The highlights are the pulled pork sliders and the sausages ($20 each), they’re superb meaty and full of flavour. The hot pastrami sandwich ($118) is pretty good, it’s hard not to compare it to the three inch thick pastrami slabs from New York, but that’s really not a fair comparison. The St Louis style spare ribs ($50) are meaty and not too heavily sauced so as to wipe out the meat. While the Texas short rib is a big slab of beef. For sides there’s Jalapeno Mac n Cheese ($30), Southorn Slaw ($25) and BBQ lentils ($30) – all tasty and good sized portions.

Everything is served to be shared, the tables are big, the atmosphere relaxed and it’s a very enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon, or host your own event there. The negatives it’s, in Hong Kong terms, in the middle of nowhere, although the 671 bus stops outside the door and there’s on street parking. Don’t want to go to Ap Lei Chau, see the online menu at www.crft-pit.com and have your food cooked for you and delivered directly to your door.

With Thanksgiving coming up see Crft-Pit’s Thanksgiving Turkey Set which feeds 4-6 people for $1998.

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